It's been a long time since the Oilers have gone into Calgary and come away with a win. Since October of the 2008/09 season to be exact. Edmonton has played in Calgary ten times and have lost each and every time since then. But that streak ended tonight as the Oilers not only won but dominated the Flames en route to a 6-1 road win over their provincial rivals. That's not a typo, the Oilers scored six goals tonight. And they won. In Calgary. In yet another season that's been reduced to nothing more than moral victories this was a very nice game to win.
The Flames scored first but the Oilers were the better team from start to finish and it wasn't really even close. Miikka Kiprusoff made the acrobatic saves Oilers fans have gotten very tired of seeing and there were thoughts that maybe his heroics would be too much to overcome but the Oilers owned the Flames on the shot clock, out chanced them by a significant margin, and chased Miikka Kiprusoff after two periods. With only four penalties in total, three to Mark Giordano, the other a delay of game call on Ladislav Smid, the game wasn't anything like the 1980's versions of the Battle of Alberta but who cares, the Oilers won. Let that sink in for a minute, the Oilers won.
The Oilers had the first good scoring chance of the night when Taylor Hall was sent in all alone on Miikka Kiprusoff; Hall went to his backhand but wasn't able to get the puck over Kiprisoff's outstretched pad. Hall would again have a chance to get the Oilers on the board minutes later but his shot missed the net. Throughout the first period when Hall was on the ice the puck was headed in the right direction. However, despite the early chances it was the Flames who got on the scoreboard first when Scott Hannan's point shot beat a screened Devan Dubnyk.
With a little over a minute left in the first period Jordan Eberle picked up his own rebound and beat Kiprusoff with a backhand to the top of the net. Corey Potter playing in his first game since missing three with a groin injury took a shot from the point that was deflected by Sam Gagner before getting to Eberle. Kiprusoff, who made 16 saves during the first 20 minutes of the game and was the biggest reason the Oilers hadn't scored before this point, made two strong saves before Eberle managed to beat him for his 26th goal of the season.
The second period started just as the first had ended: with the Oilers dominating the play. Hall had another great chance to score and Gagner had a couple of whacks at a loose puck but couldn't get the puck over Kiprusoff. After so many good saves it was a lucky bounce that gave the Oilers their first lead of the night. On a two-on-one Hall passed the puck to Ales Hemsky, Chris Butler got a piece of the pass but the puck got through to Hemsky who managed to get the a shot off in the direction of the Flames net that went off Kiprusoff and in.
The Oilers would extend their lead to two goals with a little more good luck when after a faceoff win by Olli Jokinen the puck bounced over the stick of Cory Sarich giving Ben Eager and Eric Belangera two-on-one opportunity. Kiprusoff made the first save off Eager's shot but the rebound went right to Belanger who banged home his third goal of the season. The Oilers would score again 30 seconds later extending their lead to 4-1 when Eberle from behind the net found Gagner open in the slot.
Ryan Smyth would give the Oilers a four goal lead before the period ended on the 34th and final shot of Kiprusoff's night. He only gets credit for the second assist but the goal was created all the way back in the Oilers end of the ice when Jeff Petry made a nice play stepping into the passing lane to intercept a pass, creating a four-on-two. After carrying the puck into the Flames zone Petry passed the puck off to Gagner who made a nice backhand pass through the slot to Smyth for the Oilers fifth goal of the night.
After being out shot by a 34 to 11 count through two periods the Oilers replace Kiprusoff with Henrik Karlsson to start the final period. Karlsson would have a much easier period, facing just eight, shots as the Oilers took their foot off the gas with the game all but won. Hall, who played a great game for the Oilers would finally be rewarded for his efforts in the 58th minute of the game on his ninth shot of the night giving the Oilers one last chance to celebrate in a game that was a welcome change to watch.
News and Notes:
- Not only did Hall lead the Oilers in shots tonight he also led all Oilers forwards in ice time playing three second short of 20 minutes. With nine shots on goal tonight he tied his career high set almost a year ago to the day when he recorded his first career hattrick against the Atlanta Thrashers.
- Hall led the forwards in ice time and Petry led the defence with 24:14. Since the calendars were turned to 2012 Petry has yet to play less than 20 minutes in any game. There is still room for improvement but it looks as if the coaching staff has confidence that he can handle a bigger role.
- With a goal and two assists tonight Eberle now has 101 career points in 124 games. I would imagine that you could have gotten decent odds if you'd been willing to bet Eberle would beat Hall to the 100 point mark.
- The six goals scored by the Oilers tonight is the most they have scored in Calgary since game 82 of the 1999/00 season. The five goal margin of victory ties the Oilers for the fourth most lopsided win they've had in Calgary. The only games where the Oilers beat the Flames by more were: 9-2 on March 27, 1984; 10-2 on April 17, 1983; and 10-1 on November 26, 1996.